Bunions and California Condors

I know what you’re thinking, what could bunions and California condors possibly have in common? Well, nothing actually except that this past Thursday I had a bunion removed from my right foot and that the real subject of this post will having something to do with California condors.  This may not be the most well-written post on this blog as the medications that I am taking to help me recover from having bone removed from my foot, bones realigned, and then  having said bones screwed back into place make me extremely drowsy.  I have spent the past 48 hours feeling like you do right before bed, when you know sleep will come at any second.  Anyway, the first bit of this post will describe my experience immediately after bunion surgery and then I will end with some happy news out of California.

Gross I know…..my bunion was in the moderate range of this scale.

So I finally did it, I decided to get bunion surgery.  For those of you who do not know, bunions are essentially a bone deformity in your foot.  The joint in my big toe was all messed up causing my big toe to drift/point towards my second toe and forming a large lump on the outside of the right foot.  Bunions can be hereditary and both my mother and my sister suffer from bunions as well. Over time, bunions can become incredibly painful. My bunion had been bothering me slightly for years (since high school really) but the thought of being off my feet for any period of time was my worst nightmare and so I never even considered surgery as an option. However, this past spring my bunion deformity became so bad that the pain was interfering with my ability to do the activities that I loved – such as hiking, running, yoga, and lunges.  After much consideration and some shopping around for doctors, I decided to bite the bullet and get the bunion “fixed”. Although there are 100s of different types of bunion surgeries, fixing my bunion required the doctor to cut out the messed up part of my big toe joint, realign the big toe bones into their proper location, and then screw everything into place.

I had my surgery on Thursday morning. Dave took me to the hospital where I was quickly taken to a pre-op room. The nurses took my vitals, hooked me up to an IV, and I had a discussion with the anesthesiologist about the “twilight anesthesia” I was going to receive.  Apparently I was “awake” for the whole procedure but I remember nothing after they put me on the operating table and covered me with nice warm blankets.  Next thing I remember was waking up in a recovery room with Dave (who was thoroughly enjoying seeing me come out of anesthesia). Once I was back to close to my normal self (not asking Dave the same question over and over again), the hospital released me to go home and sent me packing with a yummy Dove chocolate bar!

I was able to walk on my foot that day in my special walking boot and the day of surgery was a piece of cake (once I finished throwing up from the anesthesia at least).  My foot was still completely numb from the local anesthetic that the doctor used during the operation so I felt nothing from the ankle down. However, at 4am I woke up to an incredibly painful foot.  By 6am I could not take it anymore and hobbled out of bed into the living room where I downed some pain killers and slept the rest of the morning away with my foot elevated and iced.

My foot elevated and iced (with Dave’s blue belt helping to keep the ice in place) immediately after surgery and before I began throwing up from the anesthesia.

The pain killers made the pain in my foot bearable while I was laying down but it was still excruciating for me to walk in my boot. Every step felt like my bones had been replaced with a red hot poker.  It probably did not help that my second round of pain killers did nothing since I puked them up within 5 minutes of swallowing them.  The vomiting every 10-15 minutes continued until Dave was able to get my some anti-nausea medication from the pharmacy (he’s been a life saver the past few days) later that afternoon.  Needless to say, my first day post operation was a nightmare and I was afraid I was going to regret my decision to have the surgery in the first place. However, now at day 3 post-surgery things are manageable. The puking is all under control with the magical anti-nausea pills I have and I feel virtually no pain when sitting with my leg elevated.  The worst part now is when I attempt to get up and all of the blood rushes back into my poor foot. After that pain subsides, I can hobble – very slowly- wherever I need to go with minimal pain.  I am even considering taking my first bath since Thursday morning (with a trash bag taped securely around my gauze covered foot)!

It’s only been three days and Dave and my friends in Logan have been amazing! People have been checking in on me, bringing me food (which Dave definitely appreciates as well since that is one less meal he has to make for me), gifting me care packages, offering to help me when Dave in unavailable.  Everyone in this town is so amazing and helpful! I cannot thank them enough. My next doctor’s appointment is on Wednesday (1 week post-op) and at that time the doctor will check on my foot and give me fresh dressings.  In the meantime, I continue to sit on the couch and study for comps (when the drugs are not making my brain foggy), knit, play video games with Dave, and watch “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (if Dave is watching with me ) or “Once Upon A Time” (when I am watching alone).  Hopefully I’ll be back to  my normal, active self in no time.

Care package from my sister in Maryland. Including a cute card with a duck in a cast!

While I was in surgery on Thursday, President Obama was busy doing something awesome! He was signing a bill which turned Pinnacles National Monument in California into Pinnacles National Park. The 40-square mile area was established as a National Monument in 1908.  Pinnacles protects areas that are very important culturally to many Native American tribes. Also, pinnacles has been a key location for the re-establishment of the California condor and in 2010 a pair of released condors successfully hatched a chick for the first time in a century! Pinnacles National Park will become the nations 59th National Park.

California Condor (a critically endangered species) can be found in the newly “upgraded” Pinnacles National Park.

Huffington Post – Pinnacles National Monument Named National Park

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2 thoughts on “Bunions and California Condors

  1. I had the exact same surgery done several years ago on my left foot. Now every time I do a lunge it feels like my toe won’t bend all the way. I’m scared of losening the screw. How are you doing lunges?

    • Thanks for the question Kate! It has only been a year after my surgery but so far I have not had any problems doing lunges. Right after my surgery I eased myself into lunges by starting with just going to yoga classes (which incorporated body weight lunges) before trying any weighted lunges. I think the yoga classes really helped me recover some of the flexibility in my toe that I had lost after the surgery. I still do not have full range of motion in the toe that was operated on but it is enough to be able to do lunges relatively pain-free. I try to not over-do it though because the toe does begin to hurt if I do too many lunges in one workout or weighted lunges with heavy weights. Yoga really helped me regain some flexibility (which you need for proper lunge form), so maybe try a few yoga classes in your area. Or, if it is really bothering you, you might want to go back to your doctor and see if they could recommend a physical therapist or they could at least take an x-ray to check on the screws in your foot. Some people who have had the same surgery did have the screws removed a few years later after the bone had completely healed, so having the screws removed could be an option to talk to your doctor about as well. Hope that helps! Good luck!

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